7 December 2001

Whether it is researching consumer behaviour on the Web, ringing church bells or riding his motorbike to the top of the European Alps, Dr Chris Hodkinson loves a challenge.

Dr Hodkinson, 48, will graduate with his PhD from The University of Queensland on Monday, December 10, at a ceremony for the Business, Economics and Law Faculty in Mayne Hall.

After returning to study as a mature-age, external student 13 years ago, he won a university medal for his undergraduate marketing degree before coming to UQ to complete a research masters in consumer behaviour (1993) and winning a scholarship to study for his doctorate.

“I am now looking for consulting opportunities particularly in the area of marketing strategy and World Wide Web consumer behaviour. My PhD results suggest different training may be needed for men and women, for example,” he said.

When he is not studying, Dr Hodkinson can be found renovating houses, ringing church bells or building and riding motorbikes.

His description of himself as “a bit driven” is a mighty understatement.

The father-of-two grown-up children said ever since his first day at university, he felt he had a point to prove.

“It was that I could make it through academic study as an older person, and win the internal psychological battle involved with completing open-ended higher degrees,” he said.

He has overcome much adversity including being hit by a car while riding his motorbike two years ago, and the loss of all of the data for his PhD—which forced him to start again.

Starting from scratch does not faze him. He has built a motorbike literally from the ground up using parts from a variety of different brand bikes. The beautiful result recently won two categories at the Queensland Motorcycle Concourse including “Most Unusual”.

He holds the unofficial records for the fastest time on a motorbike from Brisbane to the tip of Cape York (four and a half days) and from Brisbane to Broome via the Simpson and the Tanami track (nine days), and has ridden around the unforgiving Thar Desert in Rhajastan in India and the European Alps to a height of over 3000 metres.

He said campanology (bell-ringing) appealed because of its medieval origins and the fact that “it is the most noise you can make legally in the suburbs.”

He rings the bells every Sunday at St Andrew’s Anglican Church in South Brisbane and while in Europe in 1995 on his Alps adventure on borrowed motorcycles, he managed a detour to ring the bells at Britain’s famous Winchester Cathedral.

His PhD thesis, supervised by the Graduate School of Management’s Professor Geoff Kiel, is just as interesting as his recreational pursuits.

It involved observing several hundred people solving set consumer problems such as researching a holiday destination or purchasing a new hard-drive using only the Web.

“One of the most significant results of my thesis was that the more sophisticated the search method people used such as using bookmarks or the history feature on their Web browsers (shows last 10 websites visited), the more likely they were to actually purchase goods online,” Dr Hodkinson said.

“In other words, when searching for consumer information on the Web, you have to be able to compare and to do this you have to be able to re-find information quickly. A less sophisticated searcher tends to lose track of where they’ve been on the Web and can’t re-find the necessary information.”

For further information, contact Dr Chris Hodkinson (telephone 07 3892 4803, mobile 0402 243 426 or email: c.hodkinson@gsm.uq.edu.au) or Shirley Glaister at UQ Communications (telephone 07 3365 2339).